act out

verb
acted out; acting out; acts out

Definition of act out

transitive verb

1a : to represent in action children act out what they read
b : to translate into action unwilling to act out their beliefs
2 : to express (something, such as an impulse or a fantasy) directly in overt behavior without modification to comply with social norms

intransitive verb

: to behave badly or in a socially unacceptable often self-defeating manner especially as a means of venting painful emotions (such as fear or frustration)

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Examples of act out in a Sentence

because his parents spent so much time with his chronically ill sister, the boy resorted to acting out in order to get attention
Recent Examples on the Web What there has been instead is a coming together, and for once people seem willing to listen to each other and act out, finally, against centuries of the mistreatment of Black people. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Trump, Juneteenth and Tulsa: Why you should take HBO up on watching 'Watchmen' for free," 19 June 2020 But a younger child might need to act out getting ready for school in order to express himself or herself. Zayna Syed, Dallas News, "COVID-19 has forced many North Texas therapists to offer children’s play therapy online," 18 June 2020 And, by extension, we are forced to act out her rash and often violent decisions with little say in the matter. Benjamin Levin, CNN Underscored, "The Last of Us Part II left us amazed, yet despondent," 15 June 2020 The day before the shooting, Jordan and Mason attended a barbecue with other similar families, and Jordan reportedly didn’t act out of the ordinary. oregonlive, "Bend mom pleads guilty but insane in killing of her 7-year-old disabled son," 2 June 2020 Kesey took advantage of his literary celebrity to act out his anti-establishment passions in wide-open political clamor. Scott Bradfield, The New Republic, "Robert Stone’s Bad Trips," 20 May 2020 One example is Zoo-phics, a program in which children act out each letter of the alphabet. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Fueling active bodies and active minds keeps kids learning while having fun at Arizona Sunrays Learning Center," 15 Mar. 2020 So the concept evolved into a series of paper mache jesters acting out the logos of a few signature societies, like the seminal symbols of the Order of Myths: Folly and Death. Michael Dumas, al, "’Unified decorations’ frame Mardi Gras performance art," 24 Feb. 2020 Her discordant feelings are dramatized when the family visits the International Spy Museum, in Washington, D.C., where they are given a script to act out a mission. Lauren Oyler, The New Yorker, "Are Novels Trapped by the Present?," 12 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'act out.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of act out

circa 1616, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Time Traveler for act out

Time Traveler

The first known use of act out was circa 1616

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Statistics for act out

Last Updated

29 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Act out.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/act%20out. Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for act out

\ (ˈ)akt-ˈau̇t How to pronounce act out (audio) \

Medical Definition of act out

: to express (as an impulse or a fantasy) directly in overt behavior without modification to comply with social norms act out an adolescent fantasy

intransitive verb

: to behave badly or in a socially unacceptable often self-defeating manner especially as a means of venting painful emotions (as fear or frustration)

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More from Merriam-Webster on act out

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for act out

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with act out

Nglish: Translation of act out for Spanish Speakers

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